The theme “We Have Come to Adore Him” lead a million youth to World Youth Day in Germany. Just as it was the refrain of the three Wise Men on their pilgrimage to Bethlehem over 2000 years ago, so today it is leading young people from across the United States and from all over the world to Ave Maria University in Naples.
One sign of spiritual preparation leading up to World Youth Day was the Pilgrimage Cross given to young people by Pope John Paul II at the close of the Holy Year in 1983. Years later John Paul II told young Italians, “Your choice is clear, to discover in the Cross of Christ, the meaning of your existence and the source of your missionary enthusiasm.” It is a sign that the young people who gather in Cologne this year have not gathered for an isolated “event,” but are pilgrims on a journey seeking to adore Jesus Christ, the Lord of all times. The high point of World Youth Day every year is the closing mass, in which participants celebrate the Paschal Mystery, adoring the Lord, along with His Vicar on earth, the Pope.
This year those who carried the World Youth Day Cross around the world looked to the three Wise Men as their example. These men are an archetype for the Christian pilgrim: they left their homeland in search of the newborn king proclaiming as they journeyed, “We have come to adore him.” They carry with them special gifts to present to the king. But their journey climaxes when they fall on their knees before the humble child who is king of the Jews, and king of all nations.
In a similar way, the faculty and staff of Ave Maria University are eagerly looking forward to the arrival of nearly 400 students this month. Each student has left their home on a personal search and so is also a type of pilgrim. The students and faculty here have the privilege of sharing in the “ardent search for truth” of which Pope John Paul II referred to in his Apostolic Constitution on Catholic Universities: Ex Corde Ecclesia. As pilgrims and disciples who have left home and family for their four-year study at Ave Maria, it is the honor and privilege of these students to consecrate themselves “without reserve to the cause of truth.” We unite “the search for truth, and the certainty of already knowing the fount of truth.” In this way, we too reach the high point of our journey and can proclaim with the Wise Men of the East and the pilgrims of World Youth Day and all the Church in all times, “We have come to Adore Him!” The reality of this proclamation is visible daily at our campus as students, faculty, staff, and local community members gather during the day for morning or noon mass and as they take time out of their study or work schedules to adore the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
To find out more about Ave Maria University, which is founded upon Pope John Paul II’s Ex Corde Ecclesiae, please visit our website or call us at 1-877-AVE-UNIV.